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August 4, 2022

Holiday Reads Summer 2022

Melanie Bell

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©Original art by Anna Montgomery © Emerald Works Ltd

It’s that time of year when many of us choose to stock up on suncream, jet off somewhere new, and take time off to relax and recharge.

And what better way to relax during the holidays than to pick up a good book? Here are some fun and thought-provoking business, nonfiction and fiction titles for you to enjoy during your time off.

Business Summer Reads

The No Club by Linda Babcock, Brenda Peyser, Lise Vesterlund, and Laurie Weingart 

Five women formed a supportive club after realizing that they all had trouble saying "no" to requests at work. Their insights led to several years of research on workplace patterns where women are expected to take on unrewarded, "non-promotable" tasks. The authors explore the reasons behind this dynamic, and suggest solutions. 

While the club started with encouragement to say "no" to excessive work tasks, it evolved into an in-depth investigation of gender and organizational dynamics. It isn’t enough for individual women to turn tasks down – that usually means that another woman will get saddled with them!

The authors investigate the implications of women taking on extra tasks at work, such as overload and imbalance, and offer methods for both individuals and organizations to address this problem.

The Long Game by Dorie Clark 

In a world that moves quickly, you can stand out by thinking long term and acting strategically.

Clark argues that long-term thinking is the best way to build meaningful and lasting success. By deliberately setting the terms for our development, we can "attain almost anything, but not right away." 

"The Long Game" teaches us how to clear time in our busy schedules for strategic thinking, focus on the things that matter for our values and goals, and move forward in the face of obstacles. Once we identify the right goals for the long-term outcomes we seek, we can make small changes that have a big impact on our future over time.

This book’s radical focus on patience and long-term gain is a wonderful antidote to a culture focused on the short term. 

Out of Office by Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen 

Here, Warzel and Peterson have literally written the book on working from home – one that’s especially relevant as more companies move to hybrid and home-based working models.

They tackle the challenges of working from home, arguing that this new way of working requires a genuinely new philosophy, rather than maintaining toxic norms of office culture in a new location. 

"Out of Office" calls on us to reconceptualize the workplace by understanding the underpinnings of current work culture, and the changes we can – and should – make.

Flexibility, culture, technology, and community all come under investigation as the authors engage with workers and managers in reimagining our relationship to office life. "Remote work can change your life," the authors argue, but only if we change the paradigm. 

Bias Interrupted by Joan C. Williams 

Despite spending billions of dollars on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, many companies have had disproportionately low results in diversifying their workforces and combating bias. Williams advocates for efforts that move beyond discussion and bias training, and focus instead on evidence-based methods that create small, impactful changes to systems. 

"Bias Interrupted" presents research and evidence on what biased behavior consists of in the workplace, and metric-based strategies to address it. Learn about overlooked forms of bias, such as social class and maternal-wall bias, and discover strategies to preserve positive company values while supporting a diverse team.

Most people that Williams spoke with believe in meritocracy. Combating bias means that the best person has access to the job and is able to make their best contribution – no matter their demographic or background.

How Boards Work by Dambisa Moyo 

Whenever a company scandal hits, corporate boards come under question. Right now, boards are facing more challenges than ever, including economic, environmental and geopolitical crises – along with changes in what's expected of them. But what do they actually do?

Moyo draws on over a decade of experience as a corporate board member to educate investors, policymakers, the public, and future board members about boards’ operations, their structure, and how they strategize and make difficult decisions.

She tackles the challenges that boards will face in the coming years, and advocates for reform strategies that boards can undertake in order to adapt successfully.

Social changes and corporate decisions are closely linked, and this book is vital reading for anyone involved with a board who wants to navigate this changing landscape gracefully.

Nonfiction Summer Reads

The Power of Regret by Daniel H. Pink 

Daniel Pink begins his book with anecdotes about tattoos.

People around the world have embraced the same motto, many to the point of featuring it permanently on their bodies: "No regrets." But Pink has a bone to pick with that credo. Regrets, he argues, can be harnessed to make our lives better.

Pink draws on research that he conducted around the world to explore the regrets that we hold, and the power of this emotion to help us make better choices and build a meaningful life.

He explores four core categories of regrets: those involving boldness and taking chances; those about building solid foundations for our life; moral regrets; and regrets involving connection with others.

Our regrets, Pink concludes, show us what we value most. He offers methods to use our regrets for making changes in our lives that will bring them in line with our hopes and dreams. 

Poor Little Sick Girls by Ione Gamble 

With a rise in chronic illness during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ione Gamble’s book about illness and feminism is timely. Gamble uses her personal experiences living with Crohn’s disease as a springboard to explore what it’s like to navigate a modern world that is in many ways unsupportive of the chronically ill. 

Through the lens of living with a disability, Gamble takes an unflinching look at many of our cultural assumptions, including those prevalent in this age of social media feminism.

"Poor Little Sick Girls" questions our obsession with productivity, the importance of self-care (and the ambiguity of what self-care truly consists of), body positivity, concepts of taste, and the supposed impartiality of medical treatment. Delve into these essays for compelling critique and insight. 

Empowered by Vee Kativhu 

Vee Kativhu is an accomplished young author, speaker, and girls’ education advocate who believes in the power of finding your purpose.

In "Empowered," she shares stories of her childhood in Zimbabwe, the adversities she faced, and her journey toward Oxford and Harvard education, and a life aligned with her values. 

Kativhu seeks to "empower, educate and fight for those whose voices are so often silenced," and she acts as an experienced guide to the reader in finding and following their own personal mission.

Readers will find practical advice and illuminating examples of how to maintain motivation, take chances and find their power. 

Spring Tides by Fiona Gell 

This reflective and eloquent book details the personal and professional journey of a marine conservationist on the Isle of Man.

Gell grew up with strong ties to her island’s unique culture and the ocean that surrounds it. As a marine biologist, she traveled and studied oceans around the world, then returned twelve years later to the island she came from. 

Gell describes Manx culture and traditions, and explores in depth the uniqueness and beauty of the island’s marine environment, from close encounters with basking sharks to the surprising beauty of molluscs. She chronicles the failures and successes of marine-conservation initiatives that she worked with, and describes the challenges our oceans face today.

"Spring Tides" invites us to connect with our own environments and become participants in the fight for ocean conservation. 

How the World Really Works by Vaclav Smil 

Scientist Vaclav Smil’s most accessible book delves into seven fundamentals of the modern world and its workings. Recommended by Bill Gates, this broad yet detailed survey covers energy, food production, the material world, globalization, risks, the environment, and the future.

While many thinkers focus on digital innovation as they look to the future, key to Smil’s interdisciplinary insights are the vast physical changes that have transformed the way we live.

You’ll learn, for example, what energy consists of and why we’re becoming more, not less, reliant on fossil fuels, as well as how we can feed the world’s growing population and where manufacturing’s dominant materials come from.

Data backs up Smil’s insights on climate change, pandemics, and realistic views of future trends. If you’ve ever wondered about the underpinnings of our modern, complex reality, this book should answer some of your questions. 

Fiction Summer Reads

Nevada by Imogen Binnie

Binnie’s groundbreaking novel follows a disaffected punk trans woman, Maria, who embarks on a road trip from New York to Nevada and meets a young person she aspires to mentor.

Maria is a fascinating and memorable protagonist, one of the first trans characters written as a messy, complicated human rather than the conclusion of a tidy, palatable narrative – "I transitioned and now my life is better."

Maria’s situation is complicated, her emotions heartfelt. Her attempts to live by her values and connect with another (possibly trans) person who reminds her of her younger self do not go as planned. Originally published in 2013, "Nevada" has now been reissued for a new generation of readers –especially fans of "Detransition, Baby" – to enjoy and relate to. 

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi 

Scalzi’s latest novel is notable for being both a fun science fiction romp and one of the first novels to describe the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s 2020 and Jamie Gray has been laid off from a tech start-up job. While delivering food, Jamie runs into an old classmate and is offered a better opportunity, doing manual labor for an organization that works with "large animals."

Turns out that’s an understatement. The "animals" are kaiju (think giant movie monsters), nuclear-generating creatures that live on an alternate earth. Jamie’s new company is tasked with studying and preserving them. But things go awry when an enemy from Jamie’s past shows up. The character dynamics and the monsters are portrayed with equal delight. 

Book Lovers by Emily Henry 

You know that city girlfriend in romantic comedies, the one who gets dumped by a man who goes to the country to demolish or take over a small business, but meets a laid-back woman who shows him the real meaning of life? "Book Lovers" is that city girlfriend’s story.

Nora is a driven New York literary agent who loves her work and her younger sister. After yet another breakup, she agrees to holiday with her sister in a small town, where she runs into none other than her work nemesis, editor Charlie Lastra. 

Henry’s latest romance blends a snarky and tender love story and an insider look at publishing, with insights about the stories we tell ourselves and the importance of being true to who we are.

Nora may believe herself to be the villain in someone else’s story (and it doesn’t help that her client’s new novel features an unflattering caricature of her), but she – and her grumpy counterpart Charlie – can write a new one. 

People Person by Candice Carty-Williams 

Carty-Williams follows up her bestseller "Queenie" with the story of five half-siblings united by a mostly absent father.

Cyril Pennington is a jovial Jamaican-British commitment-phobe who cares more about his jeep than the children he left four separate women to raise alone. One day he decides that his children should meet and takes them to the park. 

While the oldest sister promises to be there if the others need her, they don’t see each other again until adulthood, when Dimple, "the sensitive one," finds herself in a situation she needs help with, and these siblings who barely know each other suddenly become vitally intertwined.

A compelling read that touches on themes of crime, racism, identity in the social media age, belonging, and family. 

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho 

19-year-old Ivy League graduate Jess has a lot on her plate. Her family just moved back to Malaysia from the U.S., she’s hiding her girlfriend and her sexuality from them, she doesn’t have a job, and on top of all that, she’s suddenly being haunted by her dead grandmother!

Soon Jess is knee-deep in gang rivalries and the affairs of gods she's never previously believed in. Her new life’s trials require reserves of strength she didn’t know she had. "Black Water Sister" is a compelling, well-paced ghost story about family, vengeance and finding yourself. 

We hope you find time to relax and read some good books this season. What’s on your holiday reading list? Let us know in the comments below! 

© Original artwork from Anna Montgomery.

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